When people are seeking to buy a new home, then one of the most common suggestions they will hear is to look for a “fixer-upper”.
What is a fixer-upper?
A fixer-upper is usually applied to a property that requires at least some work to meet modern standards. This type of property is in direct contrast to properties that are considered “live-in ready” – i.e. the property is freshly decorated, up-to-date, and in a generally good state of repair.
Do people buy fixer-uppers to live in, or just as an investment?
Fixer-uppers may be associated with house flipping – when people buy a property, renovate it, and then sell it on for a profit – but anyone can buy this type of property if they are willing to undertake the improvement works that are required.
What kind of improvements do fixer-uppers tend to require?
Realistically, the term fixer-upper can be applied to almost any property that is not in pristine condition. Some properties that are described as fixer-uppers will require relatively little work; others may be almost completely dilapidated. As a result, all fixer-uppers need to be researched and professionally surveyed before committing to buy – but to give an idea, here’s a look at the most common work the average fixer-upper will require:
- Electrical work. Many fixer-uppers are older properties, which often means that a team of electricians will need to check the property over and – if necessary – complete rewiring work.
- Plumbing and heating work. Again, this type of work is most commonly due to age and poor maintenance; heating systems will need to be inspected, repaired, or replaced, and repiping may be necessary if pipes are in a particularly poor state of repair.
- Window replacements. Windows are usually one of the first areas of a house to show signs of wear and tear; broken sills and gaps around the edges can not only impact the property aesthetically, but also in terms of energy efficiency.
- Damp proofing. Damp is a common issue in properties that have been neglected, so a full damp proof course may be required to address this issue. If existing damp has caused issues – such as damage to floors – then these will also need to be rectified.
- Painting and decorating. Tired wallpaper and peeling paint are all commonly seen in fixer-upper properties, all of which will need to be updated.
- Garden improvements. If the interior of a property is outdated, then it’s reasonable to expect that the garden will need to be improved in some way.
- Deep cleaning. Most fixer-uppers tend to need to be deep cleaned both inside and out, for both aesthetic and health reasons. Many people who buy fixer-uppers will choose to use a professional company to complete this work to the best possible standard.
What are the benefits of buying a fixer-upper?
- By far the most significant benefit of a fixer-upper is the lower purchase price. If there are two identical houses in the same street for sale, one of which is “live-in” ready while the other is a fixer-upper, then the latter will usually be significantly less expensive.
- Due to the lower cost, fixer-uppers can be a great way to buy a property that might otherwise be too expensive; for example, properties that are in high-demand areas, or are larger in size than a budget would otherwise allow for.
- Fixer-uppers can also be considered an investment. The purchase price will be lower, but after work is complete, the property will usually be worth far more than it originally cost – a fact that often remains true even when the cost of the improvements are factored in to the equation.
- Lastly, fixer-uppers provide a great opportunity to design a property to suit individual styles and preferences – essentially, they’re a chance to start from scratch.
Is a fixer-upper the right choice for you?
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Fixer-uppers cannot be considered an easy choice; there’s usually a lot of work that needs to be completed, some of which may take years to do. However, it’s important to note that most people will want to make at least a few changes to any property they buy, so it could be argued that the work required on a fixer-upper just extends this natural impulse a little further – and also offers significant financial benefits, both in terms of the lower cost and the potential to add value to the property.
As a result, if you are happy to complete the improvement work that may be required, then a fixer-upper could well prove to be the right property for you.
Disclosure: This is a partnered post